Laughing Liberally With Hari Kondabolu

Monthly political comedy showcase Laughing Liberally Local 415 hosts two comics tonight, July 16, 8pm, at San Francisco’s Make-Out Room. Seattle-based Hari Kondabolu (Jimmy Kimmel Live, HBO US Comedy Arts Festival) and nationally touring Marga Gomez (“Los Big Names”, “The Twelve Days of Cochina”) are headlining.

The Daily noted Kondabolu’s appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show earlier this year, but I didn’t see the Kimmel clip until this morning. I can sympathize with the Microsoft Word glitch he describes (or I could before I had the uncomfortable experience of “Ignore All”-ing my name, and then later taking the more palatable step of “Add”-ing it)!

This spring, Kondabolu appeared together with musician/comic Ahamefule Oluo in a video podcast on race comedy for the April issue of multicultural Seattle magazine NW Colors. Kondabolu believes that “comedy can be used to address racism by actually pointing out racism.”

“A big part of my comedy is taking really big subjects and really big ideas and finding ways to express them, finding simple ways to explain complicated things.” He started writing and performing stand-up when he was in high school and ran for vice president in high school to create a comedy night. “All my early jokes were basically old Chris Rock and Margaret Cho jokes with ‘Indian’ in it.”

“When 9/11 happened I realized I can’t just call myself an American, because there’s a lot of people that look just like me who were killed and beaten up and put into Guantanamo … I’m somewhat ashamed that it took something that personal to wake me up. Not to say that I found post 9/11 racism and discrimination funny, but it didn’t quite make sense to me. I found some humor in the fact that this was ridiculous and I might as well just bring it out.”

Kondabolu does not believe comedy itself will create social change. “Social change obviously is a much more complicated thing.” But he does believe that “every art form has the potential to influence people.”

July 16, 2007
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